SC Freiburg run out 4-1 winners away to 1. FC Köln on Matchday 32.
Nils Petersen (18‘) and Ermedin Demirovic (20‘) scored the first two goals in a wild game against Köln. Vincenzo Grifo (90+3’) and Jonathan Schmid (90+6’) added the third and fourth in stoppage time. Sebastian Andersson had pulled one back just after half time, but Köln passed up the opportunity to equalise as Ondrej Duda slipped from the penalty spot. Just before Freiburg’s late goals, Köln had an equaliser ruled out for handball in the build up (90+2’).
Five changes to the starting XI as Mark Flekken makes his comeback
Mark Flekken’s last appearance between the sticks for SC Freiburg was in a 4-0 win over Schalke during the 2019/20 season. One major elbow injury and 45 weeks later, the ‘keeper made his long-awaited comeback on Sunday afternoon in Köln.
Just three days since the 3-0 defeat away to Hertha, SCF’s coaching team sent the team out in a 4-4-2 formation with four other changes to the line-up aside from Flekken.
Lukas Kübler came in at right back while Yannik Keitel joined Nicolas Höfler at holding midfield. Up front, Vincenzo Grifo started on the left with Nils Petersen and Ermedin Demirovic at the front two.
Jonathan Schmid, Keven Schlotterbeck, Baptiste Santamaria and Lucas Höler all started on the bench alongside Flekken’s reserve, Benjamin Uphoff. Dominique Heintz did not travel with the team to his former club due to back problems in the final training session.
Quickfire double after a cautious start
The injured centre-back and the rest of the spectators at home witnessed a solid start to the game from SC Freiburg, without posing any threats going forward, however. After 15 minutes, Streich’s men grew in confidence and were rewarded for their attacking efforts with two goals in quick succession.
A Kübler cross sailed into the penalty area and landed perfectly in front of Petersen, who showed great reflexes to send the ball past Timo Horn and into the back of the net – 1-0 to Freiburg, 18 minutes.
The celebrations had barely died down before the SCF bench was on its feet cheering again: Bosnia-Herzegovina international Demirovic started the move, feeding Hungary international Sallai down the wing. His cross found Grifo at the back post – Grifo sent the ball back across goal where Demirovic was on hand to flick the ball over the line and double the visitors’ lead. A 2-0 lead with Freiburg took into the half-time break.
No half-time changes
Streich sent the same XI out for the second half, but it was Köln who took the upper hand and soon found a route back into the game.
SCF were able to clear the hosts’ first attempt on goal, but the resulting cross back in from Jakobs was directed past Flekken by an unmarked Sebastian Andersson, which cut Köln’s deficit in half.
Not ten minutes later, referee Marco Fritz was pointing to the spot after minimal contact between Lienhart and Jakobs saw the Köln player tumble to the ground. The penalty decision was not retracted after a video assistant review.
Ondrej Duda stepped up for the penalty but slipped on his standing foot, resulting in a double contact that sent the ball a long way over the crossbar (62’). A let-off for SCF, but there was no time for them to catch their breath, as a real end-to-end game ensued. In the 28 degree heat in Cologne, the final half hour of the game pushed both sets of players to their limits.
44 points on the board
Partly due to the introduction of some fresh legs in the form of Santamaria, Schmid, Jannik Haberer and Höler, who replaced Keitel, Sallai, Petersen and Demirovic, SC Freiburg were able to hold on to the three points, and even added two more goals in stoppage time.
With Köln’s celebrations cut short as Jonas Hector was judged to have used his arm to set up what looked like their equaliser (90+2’), Lucas Höler and Vincenzo Grifo combined on the counter and put the game to bed as the latter made it 3-1 (90+3’). With one of the last kicks of the game, Schmid put the icing on the cake after another assist from Grifo.
"We started well, ran well and worked hard off the ball, which meant we could keep Köln far away from our goal. We then managed to score from both of our first two opportunities," said SCF head coach Christian Streich after the game. "Köln’s goal to make it 2-1 came at a really bad time for us. It was clear that the hosts were on top then and they started to pile on the pressure – we weren’t able to play our way out of danger. In the end we got a little bit lucky but I am very pleased we won the game."
With 44 points on the board, SC Freiburg remain ninth in the table with two games left to play.
Next Saturday, SCF welcome the new and old champions of Germany, FC Bayern München. The game will kick-off at 15:30 CEST in the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
|1. FC Köln starting XI: Horn – Ehizibue (75', Özcan), Bornauw, Czichos, Horn – Skhiri (75', Meyer), Hector – M. Wolf (46', Jakobs), Duda, Kainz (65', Thielmann) - Andersson (65', Drexler)|
|Head coach: Friedhelm Funkel|
|SC Freiburg starting XI: Flekken – Kübler, Lienhart, Gulde (84', Schlotterbeck), Günter – Sallai (57', Schmid), Keitel (66', Santamaria), Höfler, Grifo – Demirovic (57', Höler), Petersen (66', Haberer)|
|Head coach: Christian Streich|
|Goals: 0-1 Petersen (18'), 0-2 Demirovic (20'), 1-2 Andersson (49'), 1-3 Grifo (90+3'), 1-4 Schmid (90+6')|
|Yellow cards: Horn, Andersson - Demirovic, Lienhart|
|Second yellow sending offs: -|
|Red cards: -|
|Referee: Marco Fritz|